Black Hawk Down
***.5 GM
Starring: Josh Hartnett, Sam Shepard, Jeremy Piven, Tom Sizemore, William Fichtner, Ewan McGregor, Brendan Sexton III, Eric Bana, Ron Eldard, Orlando Bloom, etc.


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There was an article in The Onion publication "Our Dumb Century" purporting to have been printed at the outset of The Gulf War, and the headline read "Nation's Bottom Ten Percent Eager To Fight Saddam." Whenever I see a film about military reality in the last decade (like Three Kings, etc.) or so, this is what springs to mind, and it always becomes even harder to ignore whenever the requisite green "I can't wait to get me into some good ol' fightin', sarge" overeager rookie bumbles his way onto the screen. I always start thinking of the guys in my high school that were either not really seeming to be on the college track, really liked cars, and/or were on the wrestling team. Godspeed, guys.

So whether it's true or not, these are the kinda guys I'm thinking about populating "Black Hawk Down," the story of the mess that happened in Somalia in October 1993 that most of America pretty much ignored when it was going down, preferring to focus on turning flannel into some sort of high-priced fashion item (or maybe I just ignored it, being a self-absorbed new collegian at the time). A civil war in Africa that's caused untold suffering drew U.S. attention and we made iffy attempts to try and solve things, which led to a bunch of soldiers trapped in the streets of a hostile African city in which even the civilians were trying to kill them.

A nightmarish situation aptly played out by the cast and effects crew of this epic. There didn't seem to be as much headache-inducing hand-held camera shit that most 'real' movies seem to rely on to make them feel more 'real.' There's also no contrived love story horseshit shoehorned into this story, either - also a good thing. It's just all about the chaotic insanity that went on in that war effort and depicted just how awful combat is to deal with and survive through, especially when you're undermanned, undergunned and lacking in the appropriate government support. It breeds cynicism and hopelessness, especially since these are just fucking KIDS running around doing all this crap. Chumps straight outta high school doing all the footwork, murdering people in self-defense, scrambling constantly to avoid their own deaths... it's just a colossally saddening experience, and this film makes you realize that.

It's a gruesome, sweaty, frightening, disturbing, hectic confusing series of fatal fuck-ups waiting to happen and it's simply aggravating that this is still the kinda shit humankind has to resort to in order to get shit taken care of. Warlords, civil wars, starvation as a weapon, civilian uprisings against poor bastards thinking they're just trying to help ease suffering, maniacs with nukes, fuckers flying into buildings with jetfuls of hostages... war is fucking brutal, sickening and unfortunately still goddamned necessary.

"Withdrawal in disgust is not the same as apathy." - Richard Linklater.

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